What the Heck Was Going on at Gucci?

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To enter the Gucci Fall/Winter 2020 presentation, one had to enter from the backstage hair and makeup area, and this unusual entry point was a sign of things to come. When addressing the work produced by a global brand, the Creative Director gets all the credit, even though a collection and the presentation thereof is the result of teams of skilled artisans, petite mains, stylists, hair and makeup teams, lighting designers, set designers, and many more.

For Fall/Winter 2020, Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele showed us how the proverbial sausage is made. More than just the clothes – or the pièce de résistance of all that effort and talent – he wanted to show us the guts of how a catwalk show comes together. After entering through the back, the audience was seated in front a heavy blush-pink curtains over which loomed a giant neon metronome that ticked down the seconds until the show started. When the veil lifted, the backstage miseenscène you walked through to get to your seat was buzzing with activity. Pre-show preparations became part of the performance. As the fishbowl-like platform rotated, models were seen getting their makeup and hair finished, shimmying into garments, and slipping on accessories.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

As the show continued and the runway looks came together, models strode forward to the edge of the rotating platform, giving a more solid glimpse of their ensembles. The clothes subverted the puritanical. Pilgrim hats made an appearance, as did full-coverage gowns with lace jabots. There were multi-tiered tulle dresses as well as pleated frocks with massive twee bows. Micro babydoll dresses decorated with sailor-uniform elements, and lacy minis topped with bondage leather harnesses suggested a hint of transgression and fetishism. We would understand if you were a newcomer to all of this and thinking that it was a bit over-the-top when it comes to styling, but for Gucci, this was tame.

The clothes subverted the puritanical.

Besides the usual line-up of hats, gloves, and sunglasses, the styling was pared back from its usual magpie excess. But we kept coming back to the same question as the show proceeded: what was the reason for this strange and alluring set-up? “There’s something though, in this ceremony, that usually stays buried: the struggle of the parturient that accompanies the tremble of creation; the mother’s womb where poetry blooms, from shape to shape. Therefore, I decided to unveil what lies behind the curtains. May the miracle of skillful hands and holding breath come out of the shadows,” Michele shared.

In other words, he believes that fashion isn’t just about the clothes, it’s about the entire ecosystem that comes together to form desire. It’s the component parts representing the whole. In an effort to shed light on parts of the runway show that are rarely seen by outsiders, Michele was asking us to think about where all of this grandiose spectacle comes from.

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